This is an absolutely stunning debut! Okay so the band consist of the remnants of the now defunct Beta Band so it's not a complete debut - but this is just outrageously good!
The Aliens combine Beatles-like songwriting and harmonies with a touch of Floyd-like experimentation and throw in a load of fun. This is one of the most uplifting pieces of work I've heard in ages. The single "Setting Sun" is a great opener and reminds me of the best of 60s music crossed with a New Wave/indie/post-punk (who cares about labels!) keyboard riff that drives the song. "Robot Man" is just as good - and sounds like something Lennon and McCartney might have penned in their prime. This is followed by "I am the Unknown". This is a superb song with ELO-inspired vocal harmonies (though much better than ELO!!!) tied into some great guitar and keyboards. Fantastic songwriting. "Tomorrow" follows in similar vein. Another great song tied in with excellent harmonies.
Next up comes the trip hop liike "Rox". Another cracking song. Completely different to the tracks that precede it and really showing off The Aliens range. "Only Waiting" sees a return to 60s inspired harmonies but played with pace. "She Don't Love Me No More" tones down the pace of the album completely. This is a soft, slow piano and strings-led song a complete contrast to the upbeat songs on the first half of the album and all the better for contrasting so much.
"Glover" is an 8 minute-long track that shows off The Aliens' experimental side. There are bits of allsorts here, parts of it are mainstream songs and rhythms but there are interruptions of background speaking straight out of Pink Floyd. In fact this track seems to owe a large debt to Barrett-era Floyd. "Honest Again" is a piece of superior soft rock which plays with the same harmonies that were so successful on the first half of the album.
Then comes "Happy Song". This is perhaps the weakest track on the album. Yes it's fun but after a while it does get irritating! It does though exemplify the upbeat nature of this album. It's a great record for release in the summer. The album closes with the lengthy and more experimental "Caravan" which again showcsaes The Aliens' range.
This is a fantastic album. In a year which already has two outstanding releases ('Neon Bible' and 'Grinderman' in my opinion) 'Astronomy for Dogs' is quite possibly the best album release so far of 2007. people have raved about The Shins and how they'll make it big this year but on the strength of 'Wincing the Night Away' I'd say they won't. This will appeal to the same audience who like The Shins but it's a MILLION times better. Consistent and edgy as well as being filled with great tunes. (9/10)
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